Foals Poised To Gallop Into Greatness


If the new album from Foals tells us anything, it’s that it yearns to be experienced live. The songs on Holy Fire, released earlier this year to much acclaim, feel eager to be unpacked from their recordings, cranked through a massive sound system, and given the requisite fanatical energy that the band is known for.

To see Foals in a venue as intimate as the High Noon Saloon is a rare treat. The band regularly sell out concerts in their native United Kingdom and are no strangers to playing high up the bill at some of the world’s biggest festivals. 

The show will certainly feature much from Holy Fire, an album that sees them cementing their status as an international headliner. It begins with the cinematic, post-rock-tinged opener, “Prelude,” a song that would lead us to believe we are in for a claustrophobic, even sinister, record. What follows, however, is an almost funky mixture of Primal Scream psychedelia and their signature math-rock density.

Holy Fire certainly takes its cues from recent dance music crazes. Lead single, Inhaler, layers intricate guitars over drums that could have wandered in, disheveled and sweaty, from the club. Similarly, the dirty pulse of “My Number” is aching for an EDM remix. 

With Foals, you get the sense that they build their songs like a complex tower. Everything seems to build off of a simple riff or odd keyboard line. Layers of melody are inserted, reinforcing every song. Eventually, the song is built up to soaring heights, with singer Yannis Philippakis reaching his typical end-of-the-world fanaticism. The productions are often filled to the brim with sound. They are not necessarily a band that relies on empty space or mood, sort of like the anti-XX.

However, while Yannis’ vocals can often be treated as just another layer in a song, it is when the rest of the band eases off a bit that another side, a more intimate side, finally reveals itself. The vocal delivery on “Late Night” is clearly a highlight of the album. Yannis perfects the emotional delivery that he has hinted at in previous songs like “Spanish Sahara.” His voice even comes to the point of cracking as he pelts us with an intense delivery. 

Live, the band has garnered international praise. Listening to the album, it seems that the confines of a mere recording seem unable to truly capture the vehement growl and raw energy that makes them so special. Recent videos of their performances at Glastonbury have only reinforced this.

Madisonians who find themselves watching the Oxford band are guaranteed a few things: an abrasive, post-apocalyptic performance, lush walls of sound, and a band at a creative peak, eager to bring their intricately crafted tunes to the stage.

Foals will play the High Noon Saloon on July 31. Get your tickets here.  

-Ross Martin

Check out Jonk Music’s interview with opening band, Drowners, here.  

One Response

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